Monday 7 November 2011

Monday Musings - Review of Shadowfall: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes by Tracy Revels

(Originally published over at The Bookbag.)

You remember Sherlock Holmes, yes? Deerstalker, pipe, leetle grey cells… (Oh, sorry, that was Poirot, but same kind of deductive ability), naked winged-woman on, or at least floating above, the sofa in Baker Street… wait a minute? Seriously?

Well, ‘seriously’ is probably not the word to be used to describe this delightful pastiche, but I can happily tell you that mixing Sherlock and Watson with Titania, Spring-Heeled Jack, Charon, and other lesser known tales works surprisingly well. Chiefly this is because Tracy Revels manages to capture the tone of Arthur Conan Doyle’s originals fairly faithfully, just with the twist that Sherlock is only half-human. And looking at his detective skills, it’s a wonder we hadn’t figured that out before.

The characters come at us fast and furious here, and part of the pleasure is there’s no need to spend any time establishing them. We know what to expect from Holmes and Watson, Revels shows us enough to realise that this is still the recognisable duo, despite Watson’s shock at finding out about his friend’s true origins, and that allows the majority of the book to be spent throwing ever-more bizarre obstacles at the pairing and watching them stretch themselves to their limits trying to overcome them. Full marks, as well, for a Watson who is significantly more of a man of action, as in the original stories, than the bumbling fool found in some of the pastiches.

The supporting cast is a mixture of cameos from the usual suspects such as Lestrade, Mrs Hudson, and Mycroft, and the legendary characters thrown in to the tale. I won’t spoil too much by listing the other adversaries – everyone mentioned above comes into the first 30 pages or so – but they’re interesting foes who present a worthy challenge for the great detective and his sidekick, and my blood was well and truly pumping as we reached the final showdown.

Sherlockians and non-fans alike, this is a really wonderful read - high recommendation!

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